1 in 4 New York City Children Now Lives in Poverty

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Nearly two million New York City residents, including one in four children, lived in poverty in 2022, an increase of 500,000 people that amounted to the biggest single-year jump in a decade.

Overall, 23 percent of the city’s residents lived in poverty, defined as not being able to afford basic needs like housing and food, according to a new report by a research group at Columbia University and Robin Hood, a large philanthropic organization. In 2021, that number was 18 percent.

A new report found that 25 percent of children in New York City lived in poverty in 2022, the highest rate since 2015.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

Driving the Increase: The End of Pandemic-Era Relief

The biggest reason for the surge in poverty, both nationally and in New York, was the end of several pandemic-era government policies, like the expanded child tax credit, enhanced unemployment insurance and cash payments that helped low-income families keep up with rising costs, said Christopher Wimer, the director of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University and a co-author of the report.

“It’s dispiriting,” Dr. Wimer said. After several years of reducing poverty in the city, he added, “we’re going in the wrong direction.”

The researchers used a metric called the supplemental poverty measure, which considers both income and noncash support like food stamps, as well as the local cost of living. It differs from the U.S. census’s official poverty measure, which only counts cash resources, but the supplemental measure is also widely used by the government.

In 2022, under the supplemental measure, a family of New York City renters with two children was considered below the poverty line if it made less than about $44,000. The poverty threshold for a single adult renter was $20,340.

Why It Matters: The City’s Economic Recovery Is Uneven

The rise in poverty underscores wide disparities in New York.

Black, Latino and Asian New Yorkers were roughly twice as likely as white residents to live in poverty, and women were more likely than men to be unable to afford their basic needs, according to the report.

A major reason for the disparities is the lopsided jobs recovery, said James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.

While the city said in October that it had recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic, the positions that have returned have mostly been in low-paying industries, like home health care, which pays workers an average $32,100 a year. The median household income in New York City is about $75,000.

At the same time, the retail sector, a higher-paying industry that disproportionately employs Black, Latino and Asian workers, shed more jobs than any other industry, Dr. Parrott said.

Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said that “Covid-19 took a disproportionate toll on our most vulnerable neighbors,” but pointed to a number of initiatives, including a summer youth employment program and the expansion of the city’s earned-income tax credit, as signs of progress.

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